How many parties does a deed of trust involve?

May 8, 2024

Understanding Deeds of Trust: The Three-Party Key to Buying Property

Imagine you’ve been saving your allowance, doing extra chores, and have finally collected enough money for a down payment on your dream home. But to actually buy it, you still need to borrow some money from the bank. This is where something called a deed of trust might come into play! Unlike the mortgages you often hear about, a deed of trust involves a unique three-party system. Let’s break it down.

What Exactly is a Deed of Trust?

Think of a deed of trust as a special kind of promise. In some states, it’s used instead of a mortgage when buying a house. Here’s the deal: you promise to pay back the loan, and in exchange, you temporarily sign over ownership of your new house as a guarantee. The key difference from a mortgage is that there are three parties involved, not just you and the lender.

The Three Key Players and Their Roles

  • The Trustor (That’s You, the Buyer!) You’re the excited homebuyer with a plan. In a deed of trust, you agree to temporarily transfer ownership of the house to someone else until you fully repay the loan. Your job is to make those monthly payments on time!
  • The Beneficiary (The Lender) This is usually a bank, a financial institution, or even a private individual who lends you the money to buy your home. Their main concern is getting their money back, plus some extra (that’s called interest). If you stop paying your loan, they have the right to ask the trustee to take action.
  • The Trustee (The Neutral Helper) Think of the trustee as an impartial referee. They’re often a title company or a similar organization. Their job is to hold the official ownership papers (the title) to your house on behalf of the lender. The trustee protects the lender’s interests but also ensures that everything follows the rules. If things go wrong, they handle the foreclosure process.

What Happens When You Pay Off Your Loan?

The best outcome is when you make all your payments on time! Once the loan is completely repaid, the trustee officially transfers full ownership of the house back to you – it’s all yours! But if you miss a lot of payments and default on your loan, the lender can instruct the trustee to initiate a foreclosure process to sell the home.

Deed of Trust vs. Mortgage: Spotting the Differences

Both mortgages and deeds of trust help people buy homes, but they have some key distinctions:

Deed of Trust: 

Three parties are involved (trustor, beneficiary, trustee)


Two parties only (you and the lender)

Deeds of trust often offer a quicker and simpler foreclosure process in case of default. This kind of process is called “non-judicial,” meaning it doesn’t have to go through a lengthy court battle. This can be an advantage for the lender.

Why Do Deeds of Trust Exist?

Deeds of trust aren’t used everywhere, but in the states where they are common, they offer some benefits. The faster foreclosure process can streamline things if a borrower isn’t able to keep up with payments. Sometimes, this is the most sensible way to protect the lender’s investment.


If you’re planning to buy a house in a state where deeds of trust are used, it’s crucial to understand this system! Remember our three-person team:

You (Trustor):

The buyer ready to make your homeownership dream a reality

Lender (Beneficiary):

The one providing the funds to make your purchase possible


The neutral party responsible for holding the title and overseeing the process

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